These sorts of problems can lead to more long-term complications, affect your day-to-day life in a negative way, and if left untreated, cataracts will worsen over time, possibly leading to permanent damage, or blindness.
RISK OF FALLING
With time, cataracts will become progressively worse and lead to a higher risk of falling, or being able to navigate your surroundings safely, meaning you’ll need to slow your pace to limit this risk.
Not only can cataracts severely hamper your driving and mobility, they significantly increase your risk of being in a motor accident. In fact, drivers with cataracts are 2.5 times more likely to be involved in an at-fault car accident than those without cataracts.
Cataracts can give tremendous trouble when it comes to being able to read without difficulty. It sometimes feels like looking through cloudy or frosted glass, which can lead to headaches and frustration.
LOWER QUALITY OF LIFE
With an increased risk of falling, being involved in car accidents and collisions, and frustrations with every day tasks like driving, reading, and general mobility, you may feel depressed, or sad. Treating cataracts early can alleviate all of the above. Your Life Doesn't Have To Be Impacted By Cataracts!
While very rare, severe complications from cataract surgery can occur even when it is properly performed:
Infection. The risk of infection is about 0.1%. Infections after cataract surgery typically occur in the week after surgery and its main symptoms are pain, redness, and decreased vision. Should any of these symptoms develop after cataract surgery, seek medical care immediately as the sooner an infection is treated, the better the prognosis. To minimize your chance of infection, please wash your hands often and avoid touching the skin around your eye.
Retinal detachment. The risk of retinal detachment is about 0.03%. People who are near-sighted are at greater risk. Symptoms are typically a lot of flashes and floaters initially and then a curtain being pulled across your vision. If a retinal detachment occurs, you need to be promptly evaluated by a retina specialist.
Retinal swelling/edema. The risk of retinal edema is about 1%. Typically, it develops weeks after surgery and causes blurry vision. Those at greatest risk are diabetics, people with prior eye inflammation, prior retinal problems, and individuals who do not use their postop eye drops properly. This is treated with anti-inflammatory eye drops or an injection of medication.
The most common side effect is clearer vision. Since cataracts block light, when they are removed the eye will detect more light and could feel more sensitive.
There may be reduced pressure in the eye, as well.
You may notice more floaters and there could be a dark crescent shape in the peripheral view, but the crescent shape usually goes away on its own in a few months.
You may also notice a brief flicker of light in certain lighting conditions. This may be due to the edge of the lens implant catching the light. Unfortunately, this can often be confused with flashes of light that occur with a retinal detachment. If you notice a flash of light please call the office. You may need to come in to the office for further evaluation depending on your symptoms.
Development of a secondary cataract is the most common side effect of cataract surgery. This is sometimes referred to as an after-cataract, and the medical term is posterior capsular opacification (PCO).
This may develop months or years after cataract surgery, and it typically develops because microscopic remnants of the biological lens were left behind in the original procedure. This leads to a portion of lens cells settling onto the back of the lens capsule and trying to form another cataract. Since there is no longer a scaffolding to rebuild those cells will continue to develop on the capsule over time.
Symptoms of a secondary cataract mimic the first cataract, mostly with discolored, hazy, or blurry vision. This condition may develop weeks, months, or years after the cataract procedure, and it is the most common side effect associated with cataract surgery.
Fortunately, it is very treatable. While the first cataract surgery involves removing the lens, secondary cataract surgery is simpler. A procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy uses a laser to make a small hole in the capsule itself, allowing light to filter through your artificial lens, the new tiny hole, and onto the retina, clearing up vision.
For some people who have multiple complicating conditions, this procedure may need to be performed several times over the years, but this is extremely rare.
Per the Washington State Health Department masks are still required to be worn by all patients and staff regardless of CDC recommendations.
Since we perform exams in close proximity we appreciate all patients wearing their masks appropriately for the entirety of their visit to protect our staff and families.